In this whole conference realignment mess that has taken over college football over the last few seasons, Notre Dame has found a way to enter the madness yet again. With the Big East and the Irish agreeing on an exit, reported by ESPN, the school is now set to become an official member of the ACC a couple of years early.
This is wonderful news if you are the basketball program because Notre Dame will be participating in the deepest conference in the sport. Playing teams such as North Carolina, Duke, North Carolina State and Louisville doesn’t sound too shabby. However, Notre Dame is a football program and seems to be getting the short end of the stick in this deal with the way things look early on.
Because Notre Dame already had a schedule agreement in place with the ACC, which includes five teams from that conference beginning in 2014, the Irish are not part of the Big East bowl lineup beginning this upcoming season.
In other words, if Brian Kelly and his guys can't pull off magic yet again and reach a BCS bowl, they may be left out in the cold when everybody else is going bowling.
This was tweeted by the Big East Sr. Associate Commissioner Nick Carparelli earlier today when the news had broken:
So what does this mean for the Irish?
Unless Notre Dame pulls off another impressive season and finishes in the top eight of the BCS Rankings, the upcoming season won't exactly have the same benefits as last year's did. There won't be any sunny trips to South Florida playing in front of a millions of people. Instead, all of the control will be removed from the program, as hopes for an open bowl will then have to be met, as the Irish could end up practically anywhere and playing almost any team in the country.
This was later explained by Brett McMurphy of ESPN:
Now let's be serious. Notre Dame isn't going to be the forgotten team in college football. You won't see another Louisiana Tech situation in South Bend, where bowls have no problem leaving the team off the schedule due to the program being too picky with its selection. Regardless of where the Irish end up, any bowl in the country would bend over backwards to pencil in this school to participate in its bowl game. If there was a bowl-eligible team that had gone winless, sites would hope it was Notre Dame.
The problem comes into play for the fanbase and the players themselves. Just missing out on a BCS bowl game is cool. After all, there only a select few and just because your team doesn't make it does not mean your season was a complete failure. However, ending up in the middle of nowhere and playing a team like Idaho because you have no control over where you end up is a different story.
Notre Dame is going to sell tickets and will continue to bring in ratings no matter which bowl game it is forced to play in, or who the opponent is. Still, the possibilities of participating in a bowl such as the MAACO Las Vegas Bowl or Famous Idaho Potato Bowl is quite a drop-off if you ask me.
If the Irish had any pressure on them to succeed before this season started, the temperature has been increased a few notches.
There is no danger of this program missing the bowl season altogether, but it is really looking like BCS or bust during the 2013 season.